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Lone Pine Rising


In The Dartmouth this morning, Jacob Baron ‘10 writes that the election of petition Trustee Stephen Smith gives the lie to the tawdry conceit of a “radical minority cabal.” Far from a cabal, support for the reform movement grows with each and every election. The arguments are fleshed out; bulwarked with hard numbers; become more attractive.

In this new model, no one can pretend that the €œcabal € of alumni unhappy with the College ‘s current direction is marginal, sinister or small. Smith garnered the support of an absolute majority of voting alumni — 55 percent — running on a platform highly critical of many aspects of the current management. That is not a coincidence. The movement that elected Rogers, Todd Zywicki €˜88 and Peter Robinson €˜79 — and that defeated the Alumni Constitution — is stronger than ever.

That ‘s what it is — a movement. Notwithstanding the Dartmouth Editorial Board ‘s claim that Smith €œrefused to disclose the sources of his funding € ( €œPull Back the Curtain, € May 18), he did make a disclosure. On March 6, he wrote on his blog that €œliterally hundreds of alumni have donated to my campaign. Some have written checks; others have provided cash or in-kind donations; still others, volunteer assistance of one sort or another. € Surely some donated more than others — every movement has its leaders. But there is no €œclose-knit cadre € to speak of.

The focus in offical quarters, as Jacob observes, has been to criticize the ‘politicization’ of the process. But there are serious issues to be debated at Dartmouth. When the American republic was founded, ‘politicization’ was its express purpose. The basic idea is that pretenses like indirect representation, communal decision making, and all-is-well-ism are ultimately not healthy for any organization. They must be replaced with representation, leadership, and self criticsm. The reform movement at Dartmouth embodies these ideas; its opponents embody the old-fashioned way of doing things.

You see a clear manifestation of the old way in the way the administration waged its campaign. An ‘Ask Dartmouth’ website bloomed into life, jovially answering questions about Stephen Colbert and the bell tower, and skirting nimbly around questions about bureaucratic bloat. An official candidate premised his entire campaign around stopping a “hijack[ing]” of the Board and sent 66,000 shiny hypercolored pamphlets to alumni for the purpose. Incessant questions about the provenance of Stephen Smith’s mailing list ignored the fact that he used the list to send two substantive and rigorously detailed letters to alumni laying out concrete examples and mismanagement and proposing fixes. And of course there was the attack on Stephen Smith’s religious beliefs, which speaks for itself.

They are a picture of crisis and denial. Happily, acceptance usually comes next.


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